Criminal Law FAQ’S

Who is responsible for the criminal law?

Mostly Parliament are responsible for the criminal law. The Ministry of Justice are responsible for the management of courts and the prison service and the general infrastructure of the criminal law. However legislation that is enforced by the criminal law comes from all departments of the government. There is a lot of legislation that comes out of parliament and during the years of the Labour government when Tony Blair was in power there were over 1100 Acts of Parliament that directly affected the criminal law.

There are still offences that are contrary to common law such as murder but gradually all offences are being put into statute.

Who deals with the criminal law?

The Crown Prosecution Service deal with the criminal law for the police and government, suitably qualified solicitors and solicitors such as myself who have a criminal contract with the Legal Aid Agency are able to undertake criminal cases and represent people at both the police station and in court.

All cases relating to criminal offences start in the magistrates court, some offences can only be tried in the magistrate  court. These are called summary only offences.

Some offences can be tried in either the Magistrate’s Court or in the Crown Court. These are called either way offences and some offences can only be tried in the Crown Court although the proceedings are commenced in the magistrates court.

Who starts a criminal law case?

Anyone who is a victim of crime may start a criminal law case by reporting the matter to the police. The police then decide whether they are going to investigate the matter then the process starts. It is subject to overview by a senior police officer initially and then the Crown Prosecution Service. The decision as to whether or not to prosecute is in the hands of the police or the Crown Prosecution Service. Just because you make a complaint to the police does not mean a person will be prosecuted or indeed that the crime will be noted as a crime, it may be recorded on something else because the police are scrutinised on the statistics about reported crime and they are very aware about the national crime survey and the general rates of crime.

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